Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering USA: 6 Recommendations for Action

Posted: 14 July 2008


Observational and scientific evidence makes it clear that the traveling circus is no place for animals and that these archaic shows should be prohibited. Legislation prohibiting the use of wild animals from traveling circuses has already been passed in several countries and at least two countries are currently considering full bans, on both wild and domestic animals such as horses and ponies.

Significantly, this is an industry that can survive without animals, with human-only circuses proving increasingly popular with the public around the world.

It is vital that legislators address this issue decisively and avoid the wasted expense of developing regulations and guidelines that are not enforceable. Revised and more comprehensive guidelines on animals in circuses should involve independent animal welfare experts from nongovernmental organizations. This review should give urgent consideration to a ban on the use of animals in traveling circuses and a ban on the use of force during training, for reasons of animal welfare.

There is significant scope to improve the impact of the Animal Wefare Act for many animals.

The Animal Welfare Act should be updated to incorporate basic principles of animal welfare. It should apply to all animals in captivity. A comprehensive mechanism needs to be introduced for administration of regulations, inspections, and enforcement. This should include the confiscation of animals who are identified as being at risk of suffering due to poor welfare provision.

The Act should incorporate a core statement of the principles of animal welfare to be upheld, and the needs of animal should be clearly defined as the need for:

  • A suitable environment
  • A suitable diet
  • The ability to exhibit normal behavior patterns
  • Appropriate housing with or apart from other animals
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

These provisions for protection of the welfare of animals should apply to:

  • Any lawful purpose for which the animal is kept
  • Any lawful activity undertaken in relation to the animal

Regulations and standards of animal welfare should be developed for animals in commerce and industry. Standards of humane treatment and guidelines on the duty of care should be developed, for those responsible for captive or domestic animals living in human society.

Globally the actions of municipalities, and even individual landowners, have had a profound impact in moving the circus industry away from the use of animals to human-only circuses. There are already such prohibitions in place in the U.S., and although this is currently significantly less than Europe or South America, it demonstrates the public support for such a change.

1 Introduction
2 The Traveling Environment
3 Pilot Study: Animals in Traveling Circuses in the U.S.
4 The Scientific Evidence
5 The Animal Welfare Act
6 Recommendations for Action
7 Appendix: Public Opinion
8 References

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